Chris Annakin has marked an impressive breakthrough season by signing a new two-year contract.
The 22-year old forward has made 13 appearances in 2013 and crossed for his first try last Saturday at the Etihad Stadium.
A former Shaw Cross Sharks amateur, Annakin was a member of the Wildcats 2009 under 18’s Academy winning squad where he played alongside current members of the first team setup Kyle Trout, Matty Wildie and Danny Cowling.
Since making his debut against London Broncos in February, Annakin has caught the eye with his wholehearted carries and high work rate. He was due out of contract at the end of the campaign but his form has earned him a new deal that will keep him at the club until the end of 2015.
“My goals at the start of the year were to make my debut and keep my shirt, then getting my future sorted was the next one after that,” said Annakin after penning his deal.
“I’ve enjoyed my rugby this year and been really happy with how it’s gone so far. There’s still half the season to go so I want to kick on and keep improving.
“At the start of last pre-season I’d had a shoulder operation so I didn’t get to make the first impression I would have wanted on Rich (Agar). He told me to come back for this pre-season, rip in and that’s what I’ve done.
“As pre-season went on Rich spent more time with me and he was true to his word and gave me my opportunity.”
Annakin is in his second year with the first team squad, although he has been training full-time for the last three years and admits it wasn’t until 2013 that he fully embraced what it meant to be a professional rugby player.
“I think I’ve come on leaps and bounds in terms of my professionalism this year. I take advice on board and put it into practise. All the players have been a big help to me but Kyle Amor and Justin Poore in particular.
“They’re the first ones to tell me what I need to be doing better and they tell me when I’m doing well, and as a young player that fills you with confidence to hear it from players like that.”
Annakin scored a consolation try in the defeat to Castleford Tigers at Magic Weekend, his first since breaking into the senior setup. Things don’t get much easier for the Wildcats to bounce back as table toppers Wigan Warriors prepare to visit the Rapid Solicitors Stadium on Sunday afternoon (kick-off: 3.30pm).
The Wildcats youngster says the team need to get back to enjoying their rugby to get the best out of themselves.
“It certainly wasn’t the best performance to remember scoring my first try in. It’s hard because we’ve not been great in the last two games and let in a lot of points but we can’t dwell on it. We need to put them behind us and start enjoying our rugby again because we’ve got the players.
“We’ve been training hard and Rich has been telling us the right things to do, we just haven’t been doing them. Wigan is a real challenge and after these last two defeats it’s about showing the right attitude and desire. We’ve got a point to prove when we go out there on Sunday.”
“He’s worked really hard on his game and himself over the last 12 months,” said Wildcats head coach Richard Agar.
“He’s had a great impact for us so far this year and this is reward for his progress. Now we want him to push on and be a regular first grader. It’s very pleasing that he’s a player that has come through from our Academy.”
Annakin’s new deal has been able to happen in no small part due to the funds generated by Club 1873, the clubs Lottery scheme that goes into the clubs youth development and allows Trinity to sign and retain homegrown players.
Ben Shulver was the first player to be signed from the Academy into the first team courtesy of Club 1873 members, with Annakin the latest to be retained by the Wildcats from the scheme.
Wildcats CEO James Elston, said the members of Club 1873 can be proud that they have allowed the club to retain one of the squads brightest prospects.
“When we launched Club 1873 it was to fund the youth development and we’re really beginning to see the fruits of that 18 months down the line. It was always going to take a bit of time but we’re really pleased that we’ve now been able to give Ben Shulver the chance to become a professional player and retain Chris for the next two years.
“This weekend’s opponents, Wigan, are a shining light of bringing through local players into the first team and that didn’t just happen overnight. It takes time and it takes investment and the more fans we have supporting Club 1873 the stronger position we can be in to see more local talent given the chance to come into the first team squad and try and stake a claim for a place in the team.”
Club 1873 is the Wildcats Lottery, offering weekly cash prizes of £250 as well as prizes every day of the year, all for just £2 a week. Funds generated go towards youth development and you can sign up in-store at the Ridings Centre or Rapid Solicitors Stadium Box office. Alternatively you can call 01924 211611.
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